SAN FRANCISCO -- Recommind, a leading provider of enterprise search, automatic categorization and eDiscovery systems for law firms and enterprises, today released the findings of a recent study conducted with analyst firm Osterman Research, which reveals that many North American organizations may not be prepared to meet the eDiscovery requirements of litigation or regulatory investigations. The research also shows that costly storage resources are spent stockpiling email messages that are of little or no value to the organization and could even subject companies to unnecessary exposure in subsequent litigation. These results suggest that such operational challenges are due in large part to antiquated, overly manual email management practices that rely on inefficient and ineffective identification of content by the user.
Over 70 percent of the employees surveyed reported that they kept copies of some or all of their emails in external locations such as a .PST file on a localized computer hard drive. The practice of retaining copies of numerous email messages removed from the auspices of a centralized email management system puts IT departments and general counsels offices in a difficult position when required to produce electronic information pursuant to litigation or investigation, unnecessarily exposing the organization to greater risk of significant eDiscovery costs, potential sanctions and increased potential litigation exposure. As a result of amendments made to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) in December 2006, organizations must locate, preserve and be able to produce ESI (Electronically Stored Information) such as email that may be relevant to a particular case quickly, accurately and comprehensively. Companies whose employees retain email in external locations outside of the company-governed information retention process must typically either utilize unnecessarily expensive legal hold collection processes or risk adverse discovery or investigatory findings, potentially exposing the company to severe monetary penalties if key pieces of evidence cannot be produced.
Another notable conclusion of the study found that a preponderance of the survey participants utilized storage resources to retain emails that were not relevant to the company or otherwise considered business records. Respondents reported that over 58 percent of the emails that they received and filed on a daily basis could best be classified as nice to have or unimportant. Additionally, in many cases companies are automatically retaining these same messages in costly, server-based email archives, further driving up storage costs. To make matters worse, some of these messages many of which would not have been kept if accurately categorized as non-records in the first place may later be requested and produced as part of subsequent litigation, thereby unnecessarily driving up the companys potential litigation exposure. One positive finding from the study related to employees attitudes: fully 90 percent of those surveyed acknowledged that their employer had the right to control the retention of their work email, while another 83 percent understood that their email could be used as evidence in a lawsuit.
While employees have certainly become savvier about the importance of email in litigation, these findings illustrate just how challenging and costly litigation preparedness can be when employees are not acting in concert with their IT and legal departments, said Craig Carpenter, vice president of marketing at Recommind. Without the proper technology in place, legal departments face an expensive, no-win situation: either handle each investigation or lawsuit in a reactionary, ad hoc manner or risk far greater exposure through the potential spoliation of ESI or production of email which should never have been retained in the first place. True litigation preparedness requires that companies be able to fulfill their eDiscovery and compliance obligations irrespective of employee behavior. The good news for employers is that appropriate technology like Recomminds Decisiv Email solution exists today and can be deployed cost effectively with little to no impact on employee habits.